What Are The Strange Gifts of Children of Narcissists? – series recap

What if I told you that you as you are, here, now, in this moment, are fine, perfect, far more than good enough…

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I know I don’t know you, and you don’t know me.

I am not going to tell you to trust me – children of Narcissists have learned that the words – trust me – are a red flag. Someone who is trustworthy does not need to tell you to trust them as they know they’re trustworthy and it doesn’t usually occur to them to say “trust me”, whereas people who are untrustworthy tend to feel the need to make you feel bad about not trusting them by saying things like – Don’t you trust me, what’s wrong with you, why are you so suspicious all the time.

4) Second-guess yourself or find it difficult to trust your instincts? Your parents discounted your intuition or made you doubt your perceptions. – from 11 More Ways Being Raised by a Narcissistic Parent Can Affect You By Dan Neuharth

I don’t need you to trust me, and you don’t need to trust me – trust yourself. I know that’s hard, but it gets easier as you realise that all those things which you thought were wrong about and with you may not be wrong at all.

Who told you these things were wrong with you in the first place?

Who told you these things were wrong with you in the first place?

Who told you these things were wrong with you in the first place?

Can you trust them about that?

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I don’t know anything about what you have been through and are going through.

So how could I possibly ask you to take a time out, pause… and reflect on a what if…

you have baggage, burdens, issues, stresses, stressors, triggers, trauma, damage, neuroses, anxieties, fears, worries, responsibilities, and problems… and, yes, you know not all of these problems are yours, they’re problems someone else had and passed onto you, and passed onto you, and passed onto you, but you took the unwanted parcel they passed and now those problems have become yours.

“If you are doing things that aren’t good for you, visualize sending those unwanted influences back to the parents who helped create them. Symbolically box up unhealthy habits and “Return to Sender.”” – from 11 More Ways Being Raised by a Narcissistic Parent Can Affect You By Dan Neuharth

The buck has to stop somewhere.

While it can and does help to “Return to Sender” – or as I called that technique “Realising the wound you’re trying to heal is not yours even though it felt, you thought, it seemed like yours, and yet there was always something a bit off about it, which didn’t quite fit, but… which is why everything you’re doing to try and heal it isn’t healing it” – you’ve lived for too long with what wasn’t yours and it has become yours, worked its way into your system.

Your Narcissist parents turned you into a problem child, the problem child they never always wanted. You’re doing the best that you can with the worst, and it takes up more time than you have to deal with it (if you believed in reincarnation… which you sometimes do to ease the pain-pressure, but it that thought-belief comes with extra pain-pressure… you’d need several future lifetimes to tackle just the tip of this mess-damage iceberg).

If you had a spare moment to pause… you’d get some much needed sleep, but you can’t sleep.

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The reason I asked you to ponder the what if… at the beginning of this post is because I asked myself the same what if… a few years ago, and although I fought it tooth and nail as I had been taught by my Narcissist parents to do (how dare I betray them by wondering what if I’m okay), I eventually took that path and it eventually led to this post in this series within a series.

A few of you have said that you like what I’ve done in this series (I’m fairly certain that I know which bits you like and which bits you kind of went argh about because you ignored the argh bits and said which bits you liked) – spotting the gifts within the curse of being a child of Narcissists.

I’m going to teach you how to do it for yourself.

You probably already know how to do it, since it is a strange gift too, and is something most children of Narcissists learn how to do by being exposed to their Narcissist parents behaviours 24/7. It is also something we are taught to do for our Narcissist parents, for their public image, and for polite society.

What is it? Twisting and flipping things around. Being spin doctors.

It’s not a lie… it’s an awful truth! The truth hurts… and Narcissists take that saying literally, then twist it around to bludgeon people with “The Truth”, especially when they’ve been caught in a lie… which of course isn’t a lie at all, at all, at all. Their awful truth is usually not a truth at all but by the time they’ve finished battering you… depriving you of food, water, oxygen… you’ll accept anything just to make it stop!

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Narcissists do this in an obsessive-compulsive manner.

It’s one of their main go-to points for starting a drama when they’re bored – boredom scares the crap out of them (I did come across an article about the different types of boredom, yes, of course there are different types… humans love typing things, each other, etc, it was a long time ago, I did link to it in a post somewhere… might have been in The New Scientist… it was very interesting).

It’s part of their paranoia – what did you mean by that!? why did you tell me I look good today, do you mean I looked awful yesterday, have I been looking awful all this time and no one told me, what is wrong with you people, why do you all hate me!!!! – they’ve successfully wound themselves up and off they go, skittering along, slamming into walls, turning around, charging along, slamming into you, falling over and screaming, shouting, bawling about what you did to them.

They also use it as a go-to point for getting out of jail when they’ve been caught red-handed – I never said that! You misheard me, you should get your ears checked out, and while you’re there you should get your eyes tested too because I did not do what you just saw me doing in front of you when I knew you were watching me and I wanted you to see me doing it because I need the attention of an audience all the time at all! What is wrong with you!?

The friends, associates, colleagues and comrades of the Narcissist help the Narcissist make their upside down, back to front version of reality become the right side up straight forward one, often because they have no idea anymore which way is up and ahead as they’ve had the spin job (gaslighting) done on them too.

We’d feel for them, the ‘flying monkeys’, if they weren’t being such a-holes to us… we can feel for them in retrospect. We won’t pity them, like they sometimes pity us when they’re being all sorry for being such a shit to you before I realised I was being used by your Narcissist parents (and I suffered more than you did because I wasn’t used to it like you were and I’m better than you are) against you even though you did warn me and I told you what a betraying ungrateful brat you were guilty because we know how insulting that is.

And children of Narcissists learn to be excellent spin doctors for the Narcissist parents – Is your mother an evil witch? No, no, no… she’s a radically honest and authentic feminist fighter against the patriarchy (who has intuited that her female child has defected to the dark side and only an awful truth bombardment will save the runt)

Is your father an authoritarian dictator despot? No, no, no, no, he’s under pressure, he’s defusing a bomb, he’s a hero in a world full of villains who are cunning but not as clever as your father (who knows that his children are dead and their bodies have been taken over by grey alien lizard people and the demons must be dominated using any means however insane necessary).

Are your Narcissist parents abusing you? How dare you (yes, but I can’t admit to myself that this is what is happening because you’re not going to save me are you, I’m trapped help me, because where would I go, who would take me in, no one wants me, I’m so difficult, and I mustn’t tell others, because no one will believe me, they don’t want to hear it, it ruins their pleasantville, I’m a monster, as this will result in banishment from the magic kingdom and I’ll never be able to go on the rides again, even if I don’t want to, what is wrong with me), my parents are wonderful (manipulators of the truth and everyone is on their side against me), I’m the luckiest child in the world (a world where no one gives a bleep about me but it likes to say it does because it makes it sound wonderful).

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excerpt from Feminist Philosophers: “Everyone fucking knew” by Jenny Saul

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Children of Narcissists absorb, mimic, pick up, learn, many of the traits and behaviours of their Narcissist parents. All children do this with their parents, it’s normal and natural to do this, and considered to be healthy… unless your parents happen to be Narcissists, but the Narcissist parents know how to appear to be/create a facade of healthy, normal, perfect parents and their child gets blamed by the Narcissist parents, the Narcissist parents’ entourage, and Society for being the narcissistic problem.

When we are adults and observe these traits and behaviours in ourselves, we may reject ourselves just as our Narcissist parents rejected our real selves, just as our Narcissist parents’ entourage rejected us, just as Society rejects us, because we associate those traits and behaviours with something wicked, with suffering, pain, inflicted onto/into us and… we don’t want to do to others what was done to us, we don’t want to be our Narcissist parents passing on the narcissistic wound.

The buck has to stop somewhere and it might as well be with us.

This noble deed can inadvertently trap us in the hell of being the child of Narcissists forever.

And no one will know, no one will care or care to know.

All others will see is the surface of us, which is such a mystery they all think they have figured out… a placid lake with occasional rippling eruptions of erratic behaviour as we try to contain an army of gremlins inside to stop them from hurting others.

And others will call us standoffish, snobby, cold, emotionless, difficult, mistrusting, neurotic people-pleasers, as they tell us to fetch them their slippers and another hot drink because they’ve had a stressful day, and they’ll say it enough times that we’ll believe them over ourselves and call ourselves that too.

5) Struggle with intimacy or feel uncertain about what true love is? Your parents shamed you or loved you conditionally or erratically. – from 11 More Ways Being Raised by a Narcissistic Parent Can Affect You By Dan Neuharth

And we’ll blame ourselves for how they treat us, it is our fault after all… for being children of Narcissists.

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excerpt from psychcentral: 11 More Ways Being Raised by a Narcissistic Parent Can Affect You By Dan Neuharth

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This blaming ourselves for everything makes us – rather good at shouldering responsibility, being accountable, dependable, reliable. Apologising with a real apology not one of those fake ones so many people love, but into, then bitch about being sold by a snake-oil shyster later. Taking a hit for the team!

The scapegoat does not usually scapegoat others because they know how it feels to be on the receiving end of it, they know the damage it can do to do that, but they do understand why others do it because sometimes the scapegoat would love to do it – if you can’t beat them join them. They know how tempting it is to scapegoat others and give yourself a break (by passing the wound on to someone else). The scapegoat would love to not be a scapegoat and… unleash years of being a scapegoat pent up hell, but… the easiest route for a scapegoat is to scapegoat themselves, they don’t need to find a scapegoat as they are already all they need. And besides the child of Narcissists is a professionally trained expert scapegoat, other people… they just can’t hack it. It’s embarrassing, painful to watch how much amateur scapegoats suck at the job… the whining, the moaning, the lacking of any stoic elegance…which is why a pro-scapegoat will often step in and come to the rescue of an amateur – “You did good, kiddo, go take a well-earned rest, rest on your laurels while I take the fall for you… I might fall from a tall building, I might roll a brand new car, ’cause I’m the unknown stuntman that made Redford such a star!”

The twisting and flipping things around which I’m going to teach you (even though you already know how to do it – and can skip the tedious tutorial, go out to play – I know, I know, what’s that, right?) isn’t the Narcissist version of it – it is a variation on the narcissistic behaviour.

It’s a useful strange gift to have as the media, society, etc, can be just as bad as Narcissist parents when it comes to telling you what’s wrong with you and that you’re not good enough as you are – even when it tells you that you’re good enough as you are and should love yourself, it says that in such a way that it makes you feel wrong about yourself.

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While there are many commonalities between the experiences of children of Narcissist parents, and the similarities can be astounding – especially since we have often felt starkly alone in our experience – there are also differences. Those tend to be due to us (and not our Narcissist parents, who would probably want to take the credit for anything special, unique, different in a good way) bringing our own inner spark (which we’ve managed to keep safe from our Narcissist parents and society, and anyone else who likes to steal and stomp on it) to the dark.

So the list in this series of strange gifts is just a list of strange gifts, and won’t list every strange gift which every child of Narcissist parents has. It’s up to you, as ever, to figure out what’s yours and what is not yours.

The tutorial:

Step 1 – Let’s take a statement such as…

3) Feel undeserving? Your parents treated you as a second-class citizen. – from 11 More Ways Being Raised by a Narcissistic Parent Can Affect You By Dan Neuharth

Let’s assume it’s correct, because it is (at least in my experience it is).

Step 2 – Let’s sit with it.

Don’t think about it just yet.

If it wants to start a conversation with you – shush it for a minute (yeah, it won’t like that, but it’s just a statement, and it’s had its say already).

Now, think of it as a sweet (or a savoury, if you hate sweets). Pop it in your mouth, don’t swallow it (you’ve already swallowed it before, so this time try something a little different, slower… yes, I know you want to take a swig of water and wash that bitter pill down… try to not do that for a few second-minutes). Suck it and see…

Let some associations arise – memories, a vivid instance which encapsulates the experience for you, a song, a poem, a TV clip, a random monkey mind shenanigans – don’t dismiss them just yet, look at what pops into your mind’s eye. A reaction, a reflex – have them then hold them, take a snapshot, look at the snapshot.

For instance, for me, while I do have some many millions of personal memories of this… it’s an impersonal image which stands out most strongly. I used to like watching Reality TV when it was new and fresh. It was different… it also had many things about it which were very familiar, the same old same old. The facade of real and alternate versions of reality.

I was watching The Bachelor – it was indeed agonising to watch, children of Narcissists sometimes inflict on themselves stuff which… anyway, in one episode the contestants were told that they were being given beautiful dresses to wear for some evening event, and the camera panned across a bunch of racks with sparkly dresses hanging from them. The host of the show barely had time to… and the contestants stampeded towards the dresses, knocking each other over and out of the way in a shark-style feeding frenzy… over clothes.

I remember thinking – I’m the one who hangs back and waits for the crazy to subside, and then takes whatever is left – if anything is left after such chaotic fury.

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It’s just a dress – what’s important is the person wearing the dress, not the dress.

Sure, I’m vain just as most people are, and I like to look good, and I like the finer things, can appreciate them from afar if I can’t bring them closer, and some clothes do indeed make you feel good (although most of the clothes which make me feel good, don’t look that good), but… the secret to looking good is feeling good.

And do you really feel good (or look good) if you’ve just given someone else a black eye for eyeing the dress you wanted… then decided you didn’t want that one after all because it’s not as good as the one your rival for the heart of the (really shallow if all he’s looking at is what someone’s wearing – maybe he should marry the dress) bachelor has just grabbed.

The dress has more power than you do, and without it you’re basically powerless… unless you have and wear the most powerful dress and kill everyone else wearing other dresses just in case you made a mistake about which dress had the most power. But still… the dress has all the power, and all the personality to win the heart of the bachelor (who looks bored, pained, like he’d rather be somewhere else but the pay in attention is worth it… is worth it.. is worth it…).

Step 3 – Think about what you just thought about. What stands out for you in what came up? Why?

Step 4 – Push the thinking aside for a minute-second. Are there any feelings/emotions (nope, still haven’t clarified which is which yet… never mind, just experience the raw bubbling inside) which want your attention? They may be that ‘thing’ inside which makes you have an urge/reflex to run away, squirm, restless, need a drink/smoke/cookie, nope out of here/there, click anywhere else but…

Did I lose you?

Books used to lose me in a similar way before the internet – one book flipped that around on me and told me that when I wanted to stop reading it/decided it was trash/throw it against the wall was exactly when I had struck gold. Gold in the form of finding out what was really… what?

What was really bothering me which wasn’t all those ‘comfortable’ things I was telling myself – if I’m openly admitting it, then it ain’t it. The real wound?

Step 5 – What if you’re right and it’s everyone else who is wrong?

I know that’s a stretch and goes against everything you’ve been told, taught, programmed to believe… and it could mean you’re a delusional… a Narcissist… but…

remember Narcissists tend to chase the Joneses, want to live up to them, catch up to them, then kill them and take their place…

What if being a second-class citizen is actually better than being a first-class… elitist… one percenter… a-hole?

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Is your mind hurting yet? But it’s hurting differently than it usually does, right? Something is trying to make its way through a crack in the system which was imposed upon you by others and then imposed upon by yourself because others are always right…

Step 6 – This is the fun bit…

No, I’m not making any promises – promises are red flags to children of Narcissists. They’re promiseries…

Look at this again:

3) Feel undeserving? Your parents treated you as a second-class citizen. – from 11 More Ways Being Raised by a Narcissistic Parent Can Affect You By Dan Neuharth

Who taught this to you?

Who taught this to you?

Who taught this to you?

Do you want to be ‘first class citizens’ like them… like your Narcissist parents?

You do know that this whole undeserving/second class citizen is their wound talking… it’s their problem which is making itself your problem too, because misery like that is afraid of being alone and must have company in its hell hole. It’s trapped there and can’t get out so you must be dragged in.

Are they really ‘first class’?

I hear you… they’re first class Narcissists!… but are they? In a world (and you have to – for effect and fun – say that as Lake Bell said it, and other voice over artists say it, in the film – In A World) full of Narcissists would your Narcissist parents be first class or would they be ‘lesser’ Narcissists?

[for the hierarchy of Narcissists, please visit – Knowing the Narcissist – brought to you by a Greater Elite Narcissist, H.G. Tudor (he has a British RP accent with, I think, a hint of from up North telling it as they see it warmth, grim, heavy, raw, real… – he’s been interviewed in videos, answering questions about Narcissists). His website offers help in the way of information about Narcissists and their ways from the viewpoint of a Narcissistic Sociopath (or so he’s been told by an expert, whom I assume was trained by an institution – see Noam Chomsky for more details about that). He is open, and rather considerate, empathic, and patient for someone who is a Narcissist. It’s a great site to visit if you’re getting the No Contact guilt blues… to remind you]

And if you check out – 11 More Ways Being Raised by a Narcissistic Parent Can Affect You By Dan Neuharth – I’d recommend checking out the comment which pointed out that  – “Basically, you simply listed the attributes and weapons of institutionalized racism.

Still want to be a first-class citizen?

Step 7 – Flip things around for yourself.

How has feeling ‘undeserving‘ actually been a plus, a pro, a good thing for you as an individual?

How has being ‘treated (you) as a second-class citizen’ made you a ‘better person’? More mindful, aware, caring, compassionate, empathic –  and other things which our society and the people in it say, talk the talk, they value? They may talk the talk, but someone sometimes walks the walk – is that someone you? That walk is rather bracing and healthy, isn’t it… sure others may say… others say stuff, just like Narcissist parents, and think they’re doing it because they’re saying they did it. But you actually did it, didn’t you… and you’re not the fool… or at least you’re a fool who ain’t such a fool!

What are the strange gifts which you have and which you personally value which have come out of feeling ‘undeserving‘ and being ‘treated (you) as a second-class citizen’?

Answers on a postcard to yourself marked with a ‘to me, don’t wish you were here because you are here and have always been here for me, love me’.

Step 8 – Go out and play – and figure out what playing means for and to you!

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To me it means enjoying who I am as I am – a mess who dresses herself by rolling through a hedge backwards and somehow lands on my feet… or are they my hands?

that’s all folks…

oh…

yes…

that’s not all…

sorry folks…

the list of strange gifts…

I’ll do those one at a time throughout moustachioed November…

because…

there’s nothing like dragging things out…

they’ll be short posts because I’m going to stop myself and press publish when usually I would just keep going.

And…

over to you…

I may be slow in answering comments, please bare with me or not, it’s up to you!

 

19 comments

  1. Can you point me to a post about how the narcissist dresses and why? I may not have read it here, but I thought I did.

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    • I don’t think I’ve written about that.

      The way a narcissist dresses depends on the type of narcissist they are – there are different types of Narcissist, Overt, Covert, Cerebral, Somatic, Vulnerable. Different sites use different names for the types, some list less, some list more.

      Usually a Narcissist dresses in a style which suits the story they are telling about themselves, their facade, their persona. They are basically playing dress up.

      They often dress to impress. But if they’re trying to impress you with how miserable they are so that you’ll feel sorry for them, they might dress down rather than dress up.

      They’re always competing, and they usually want what others have, the latest fashions, accessories, status symbols.

      They want to be admired and envied.

      They want to attract attention. They want to be noticed.

      They’ll boast about what they have and how they look. A ‘poor me’ narcissist might boast about what they don’t have and what they don’t look like, fishing for compliments and sympathy.

      They are obsessed with how things look. How people look. How they look. How their home looks. How their family looks. How people look at them. How what they own makes them look. How others look at what they own. How their behaviour makes them look. How their behaviour makes others look at them.

      There are loads of articles about narcissists online, and probably quite a few of those will be about how to spot a narcissist by the way he/she dresses.

      Keep in mind that society in general has been influenced to dress to impress, to dress for success, and to garner attention using the clothes and accessories we wear – the fashion industry relies on us all being narcissistic enough to buy the latest fashions, jewellery, etc. To keep up with the Jones’. So you can’t always tell a narcissist from the way they dress because we’re all programmed to want to look good, and show off a bit about it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • All this makes sense to me now. Thanks for taking time to explain so many details. 😉

        I have to smile as I think about my own dressing in years past. I was a working woman whose job depended on appearance, but after I retired, I have never looked back. Being old makes so much difference in how one dresses. Frugality takes over and we may wear mismatched and dowdy things.

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        • Frugality is an intriguing experience. I buy most of my clothes in charity shops, while I started doing it for financial reasons, it has become something I love to do. It’s like treasure hunting. I only do it when I need to do it. I like wearing the same thing every day until it falls apart, because it’s comfortable, it becomes like being in my own skin. I don’t need to look good for my job. I will dress up for other people, but only when I have to. I like to challenge people to think outside of the box of the normal, the usual, the everyone else is doing this, says things have to be this way 😉

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  2. We are okay. 🙂 When I read that, I actually felt myself heave a sigh of relief. I wasn’t expecting that reaction so it was a surprise. I know I’m okay, in spite of the insecurities and self-doubt that pop up, but it’s good to hear it all the same. Thank you. 🙂

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    • That wasn’t obnoxious at all, why would it be. You have a question and you asked it.

      I used the strikethrough to visually express the inner censoring which goes on in the mind of a child of narcissists. Living with Narcissist parents is not dissimilar to living with the Thought Police. Your thoughts (and feelings, and body, and everything about you) are constantly monitored for Thoughtcrimes against the Narcissist parents and their regime.

      If you would like to know more about being a child of narcissists, there’s a film which captures it very well – What Maisie Knew (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1932767/)

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      • Thanks so much! I see two little sisters who endure much. Their training is all wrong, but I have feared to help them because of reprisal.

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  3. Wow! You did a lot of research and work on this one. I know some children of narcissistic parents, and they often turn out to be just like them. Sad indeed. Don’t believe their lies!

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    • Thank you for sharing 🙂

      It’s true that sometimes children of narcissist parents can follow in the footsteps of their parents. If they didn’t have any positive, healthy influences, role models, people who genuinely cared about them, in their childhood they may not realise there are alternative ways of being. Narcissist parents tend to isolate their children, and keep the family ‘safe’ from outside influences. The Narcissist parents also tend to surround themselves with people they can manipulate, people willing to believe the lies and propagate those lies as truths. Children of narcissists tend to be trapped, and sometimes the only way out of the trap is to join them because beating them can seem impossible, especially when society appears to back the narcissists up and be on their side against the child.

      Sometimes children of narcissists appear to be narcissistic, but they are not actually narcissists themselves. It’s a facade to protect themselves from a world they have been taught and learned to view as hostile towards them.

      Most of the children of narcissists whom I know are desperately trying to not be like their narcissist parents, and this can make them some of the nicest, kindest, selfless people you will meet.

      The human world is complex and complicated, and fascinating to explore with an open mind.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I couldn’t agree with you more!

        Your statement: “It’s true that sometimes children of narcissist parents can follow in the footsteps of their parents. If they didn’t have any *positive, healthy influences, role models, people who genuinely cared about them, in their childhood* they may not realise there are alternative ways of being. Narcissist parents tend to **isolate their children,** and keep the family ‘safe’ from outside influences. The Narcissist parents also tend to surround themselves with people they can manipulate, people willing to believe the lies and propagate those lies as truths. Children of narcissists tend to be trapped, and sometimes the only way out of the trap is to join them because beating them can seem impossible, especially when society appears to back the narcissists up and be on their side against the child” is so very true.

        I couldn’t have said it better. This particular part of the child’s life is the hardest for outsiders to cope with. I watch two little sisters day in and day out as they glance furtively to see whether or not some stranger will attack them. They’ve been told that everyone is the enemy, so don’t trust anyone or share secrets.

        My heart aches for these children!

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        • It is painful to observe. Unfortunately there’s not much you can do to help them directly as interference from outsiders tends to not go down well at all with narcissist parents, and they will blame their children for the interference. They may also decide to target you, and you do not want to be a target for a narcissist whose nose is out of joint.

          Indirectly you may be able to help them if they spend any time with you, around you, just by being friendly, seeing them as individuals and not as extensions of their parents, and showing them by your example that people on the outside are decent.

          As Maya Angelou said – “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

          Children of Narcissist parents never forget someone who made them feel okay about just being themselves as they are.

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          • This gives me courage to try with the two young girls I know. I have a “lesson” in mind since I am their teacher. The way I would give it would not single them out, but be general information for a whole class of ESL students. If you have any suggestions for reading assignments for a whole class, I would appreciate that “gift.”

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            • It depends on the age of the girls as to what they would enjoy reading – enjoyment is a huge part of stimulating learning – as is fear. Narcissist parents tend to use fear to teach. So to counteract what they’ve learned and are learning through fear, I would highly recommend using pleasure/enjoyment as it would leave a positive imprint in their hearts and minds.

              To help people you have to guide them to something valuable within themselves, show them the light inside which they can use to guide themselves through the dark.

              So tales of young children their age being heroic against big bad adults might be inspiring – The Harry Potter books.

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